Have you ever wondered why some businesses are consistently good while others just seem to achieve occasional greatness?
Further to that, have you ever wondered why most businesses barely break the mould of mediocrity?
Well the answer to that question is actually very simple.
It’s all about the process and procedures they’ve put in place for handling their specific business environment.
Some (the successful) have done it properly while the majority have not!
I know you’re likely sitting there thinking ‘this doesn’t apply to me.’
I’m here to tell you that not only does this apply to you and your business but the words that follow are what will take your business to levels you never thought possible!
All too often we see the words ‘process’ and ‘procedure’ as four letter cuss words and we tend to shy away from anything that has to do with them.
This is partially because the topic seems completely mundane…but it’s mostly because we know it implies a ton of work.
Well, if you want to be truly successful and build a business that works for you it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty!
Think of it this way…If process and procedure are cuss words, today is the day that you start to swear like a fu*king trucker!!!
(Sorry to all truckers who may come across this as I am sure you have a much less foul mouth than I do)
After consulting for and operating many very large and successful companies I have learned to preach the importance of process because I have noted first hand just how much strength properly designed processes can add to a business.
The good news is that you very likely already have 95% of the building blocks needed for developing a successful SEO/Digital Marketing business but without establishing the proper base of process and procedure you’ve quite literally built yourself on a base of quicksand (you’ll find concrete works much better).
To put this into perspective, if you’ve read any of our blogs on this site you’ll already know that we push the simplification of our lives (and yours) by making things so easy that others can do it for us.
How do we achieve this?
By putting in place the processes that allow us to create a repeatable situation within every aspect of our business environment.
Does this mean that we don’t have to monitor everything?
What it means is that we are able to create a predictable set of circumstances for every situation we come across in the daily operation of our businesses.
THIS is what you need to do in your business as well!
Perhaps the best way for me to explain this is through an example or two of the most obvious and successful uses of process/procedure to scale a business.
Example 1 – The quick lube/oil change place that you see on every corner
The truth is that you’re probably right but it sure seems like they know what they are doing doesn’t it?
They offer you a coffee/paper/water, they take you through your own vehicle’s service recommendations, they change the oil in what seems like seconds and they run through a 30+ point inspection of major components with laser like precision.
Now how are they able to do that so effectively?
It’s because of the fact that the company has put in place an A-Z procedure that the employee must follow for each and every customer that comes through their doors.
From the second they direct you in through their bay doors to the second they hand you your receipt and direct you out there is a procedure, almost like a beautiful dance, that guides the employee, and you, through every single step.
EVERYTHING has been built into the process. From how you are greeted to the upsells you are offered (the fuel system cleaner is a crock by the way).
By design the employees don’t have to use much by way of critical thinking skills. They simply follow the process they have been taught.
To the customer the process is seamless but comfortable.
To the employee the process gives the step-by-step checklist for them to ensure that they are doing things according to what they were asked and nothing more.
What’s the benefit to the business?
They are able to employ much less skilled and much less expensive employees to do the work that formerly only a mechanic would be trusted to do.
These companies have found an effective and repeatable way to drastically reduce their costs and to ensure that a quality job is getting done each and every time.
What happens when something odd comes up and it’s not in the ‘script’?
No surprises here…there is a process for that!
In the event that something goes outside the checklist for changing someone’s oil there is a scripted process for that too.
In those circumstances there is always one person on duty who is more skilled than the remainder of the staff. This person is paid more for the additional responsibility but they can also handle more situations.
So, when you show up to have your oil changed and your oil pan is leaking the original process doesn’t allow the less skilled employee to go any further. They then divert to the second scripted process which is to call over the more skilled employee.
This more skilled employee will then help the less skilled employee resolve the issue and you’re still pulling out of the bay in no time with the same good feeling you had when you pulled in.
From this example you can see that the entire backbone of this successful business model is procedure based.
Now are you beginning to see why we push so much to have you invest in your business by putting structure like this in place?
Let’s move on to the next example.
Example 2 – ANY Franchise
The golden arches are the PERFECT example of the sustained success a business can achieve based on nothing more than established procedure.
For those that don’t know, franchises are often called ‘systems’ by industry insiders.
That name alone demonstrates that every single franchise is built on a relatively rigid framework of procedures all linked together to provide a consistent and repeatable result.
The whole reason that franchises and their products/services all appear the same no matter where you are is because they are designed that way.
Much like the quick lube example from above, there are very few employees at McDonalds that need any critical thinking skills when it comes to delivering a quality product to the customer.
From the second you walk in the doors of any McDonalds your experience has been scripted and is directed so that it is as identical as possible to the ‘ideal experience’ the franchise wants you to have.
Your burger is timed, your fries are timed, your cashier (while we still have them) greets you with the same words each and every time, you get your food in the same bag or on the same tray every time, the restrooms are cleaned at the same time etc..
Yes, the process is designed for you to have a good experience however it is also designed for McDonalds to ensure they have a profitable experience when you come in.
Again, much like the quick lube example there is a process in place should your experience or some portion of it go outside the norm.
If you receive a McChicken instead of a Big Mac when you complain, a manager will rectify the issue and there is a whole back-end process that you don’t see to record and analyze the mistake so that they can ensure it doesn’t happen again.
There is even a process in place to identify issues like this when a customer doesn’t bring it to their attention.
(We’ve all gotten home and had the wrong order in our bag from at least one fast food chain….it’s the worst!!!)
But rest assured that during their closing procedures and counts, they know that they have made a mistake with someone’s order and they try to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
By now it should be very clear how effective it is when you carefully design and implement processes and procedures for your company but you may still be thinking that you are simply too small and or too busy to have to worry about this.
I can assure you that you are dead wrong if you are thinking like that!
But don’t worry, you’re in good company there are tons of other businesses like yours with potential who will simply continue to struggle with scale and time because they didn’t take this seriously enough.
The number one thing I hear from SEO’s and Digital marketers is ‘I don’t have time.’
Again, you’re in good company because I hear this from the owners of big business too and my answer is always the same.
“You don’t have time because you’ve designed your business in such a way that you haven’t provided yourself with any!”
If you want to free up your time to perform more value added work then you need to put a process in place that allows you to do that BUT you also need to ensure that you are able to control the result and to jump in should there be any issues.
You aren’t flying the planes yourself but you know where each and every one of them are and you will make any decisions that are out of the norm to ensure a safe landing.
In order to put a process in place you need to commit to investing time in your business.
You may wonder how to do that considering time is your issue however this is one thing you need to make time to do because the benefits pay off so heavily once you’ve completed them.
I’ll keep it simple for you as we’ve addressed this in more detail in our Blog “How To Make Easy Money By Outsourcing All Your Work.”
Start by finding your most time consuming task (as this will give you the most bang for your time).
Let’s say that month end reporting/billing is your most time consuming.
Take that and write down ALL the steps you go through in order to make that happen for a client.
Then, take those tasks and break them down further into the steps you need to complete for each task.
Example – Reporting/Billing
1) Determine what will be reported to the client
- Gather SERP results for all keywords and compare to prior period(s)
- Record web-site traffic, break down into organic vs. paid and compare to prior period(s)
- Record conversions, click rate etc.. and compare to prior period(s)
- Record work completed on website, content, social campaigns etc..
- Record specific optimisation efforts
2) Organize the reporting into a document
3) Prepare the invoice for the client
4) Write the e-mail copy to send to the client
5) Process Client Payment
6) Attach the reporting & billing and send the e-mail to the client
Once you’ve completed this list you can now examine it to determine which of them can be made repeatable so that it is easily passed off to someone else at little to no cost.
Now there is some work required for training before you can simply hand it off to someone but I think you get the point.
Much like the quick lube and franchise examples above you’ll be able to have someone who comes at a much lower cost than you performing the work but you need to invest the time in setting up that procedure for them. Make sure to put some thought into making it a good experience for your customer.
The more you do this, the more you are leveraging your skills and the skills of others to get your work done at a faster and more efficient pace.
The more of these processes you hammer out for your business the more things begin to snowball and grow (in a good way).
You’ll find yourself with more free time to do the value added work or even simply to take some time off and enjoy whatever it is that you like to do.
Either way the establishment of process is the only way you are going to achieve the ideal of having your business working for you and not the other way around.
It is also the only way you are going to scale up comfortably enough to achieve the growth and success that you deserve too….just ask Stuart.
Remember these few things about process;
Process will enable you to grow.
Process will keep you competitive.
Process will make you profitable.
The thought of process isn’t so boring now is it?
Take the time to invest in yourself and your business. It is the secret to success that all major business know and now you do too!